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High Court: Inheritance dispute over farm sees brothers awarded a share of the estate

An inheritance dispute heard at the High Court has resulted in the awarding of a share of the estate to two brothers.

Anthony Sowray died intestate, after which his estranged daughter, Claire, was awarded the estate.

However, the estate came into dispute when Matthew and James Willis stated that Mr Sowray had promised that they would inherit some of the estate, with Matthew working on the farm for more than 20 years, and James being promised the land that his home was built on.

The case saw the brothers awarded 50 acres of Gilmoor Farm, as well as the associated outbuildings, estimated to be worth £350,000. The brothers were promised that they would inherit land from Mr Sowray, but none of this was made in writing.

During the case, it transpired that Sowray had begun to rebuild his relationship with his daughter, Claire, and then informed Matthew that he was intending to leave the farmhouse to her.

After Mr Sowray’s death, Claire told the two brothers that her father had intended to leave the entire farm to her, following business plans they had made before his death. This was then challenged by Matthew and James, who both depended on the farm for their livelihoods.

Witnesses gave evidence about the promises made to the brothers, as well as their work on the farm, with the case emphasising the importance of estate planning and Wills, particularly to avoid complicated inheritance disputes such as this.

For help and advice on matters relating to Wills and estate planning, contact our expert team today.

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David Webb

David Webb

Director - Head of Wills, Probate & Older Client Services
I specialise in probate and the administration of estates, trust and tax planning, preparation of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection applications.

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